Archive for September, 2008

Hachijo-jima

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

After the Final Presentation of the Program (Gee, maybe I should write about that aswell) We had another couple of days in Japan.

Not enough to explore the lost continent of Okinawa, but enough to visit a little island with the vibe of it.

If you go south-south-east from Tokyo you will pass over a small archipelago of nice little islands.
Don’t go to far though. Keep going and you’ll find the famous Iwo Jima and several islands still off-limits to the public due to undetonated arsenal.

However, before those nasty islands there are a few nice Sub-Tropical Islands.

The problem with Tokyo is, it is not anywhere near something that can call itself sub-tropical. So a 10-hour Boatride was needed to get us there. With much emotion we said goodbye to tokyo.
Meh, who am I kidding. Nice city, but I’ve lived there for 4 months and I am just not that much of a city person.

On board our luxury liner we set out for the islands waking up to this sight.

Further inland we could tell this was definitely the island getaway we were looking for. Lots of island, not so much human influence.

I could tell stories about the next couple of days but they consisted of lazing in the sun at different locations and lazing in the shade when the sun got too much. There was sun, sand, trees and all that other good stuff you want on a sub-tropical island.

The main problem as I see it is that Tropical Islands come with tropical storms.

Here is one approaching

Here is us watching it approach

Here is us realizing we should probably find shelter

And there is no picture showing how wet we were as we were too busy toweling off at the local Ozzie bar.

A major benefit of tropical storms is that they blow themselves out soon. Sometimes taking some stuff with them, like half a Louisiana City, but generally only relieving the hot, humid feeling temporarily. So after the Storm we went to see one of the main tourist attractions of the island

In Hachijo jima one can find 7 out of 8 species of luminescent mushrooms found in the world.

Mushrooms

I swear to god it was more exciting than this picture shows, it just takes 10 of those to be able to read a newspaper and another 40 or so to give off enough light to make a decent picture. The exciting bit was due to having 40 people stumble through a thicket of woods with no light other than these tiny pinpricks lighting their way.

Well, it would have been if the only person to run into overhead branches hadn’t been me. Of course the woods were kept cleared up to Japanese Head-level.

That marked the end of our relaxing stay at our local tropical island. Instead of taking a boat back (which unlike the boat there only goes back by day, I invite you to find this island on google maps or smthg and look up all the interesting scenery to see on the trip back) we flew. So we bade goodbye to our host, a nice lady who next to painting also ran a guesthouse (damn, must put up picture of her painting)  and drove us around, and boarded a plane to tokyo where we could start the fascinating “Wait to fly away tomorrow morning”

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Quote of the day:

Money doesn’t buy happiness but it will allow you to look for it in faraway places.

– Some Mug I once bought my sister

Lille

Monday, September 15th, 2008

OK, it’s not Japan.

I would invite you to look at the title of this Blog.
Japan, and beyond.

One, of course, has to define beyond. As beyond may well be taken in different ways.
For instance, if one were to say; “We will send this spacecraft to Mars, AND BEYOND (que background music) one might think Jupiter and Pluto were on its itinerary. Mercury would not be expected.
However, if one were to adapt this approach to the earth, taking into account the half wolrd view (that is, considering that the world-surface would be spread out with Holland exactly at its centre and both ends of the world being at 184.53 degrees East.
“Beyond Japan” would consist of sea.

Taking the world as a sphere we would run into trouble beyond a simple blog such as this. One may have to assume a straight line approach, 52.2N 4.5E to 34.4N 135.3E and then extending the line . . .
Taking into account the curvature of the earth.
Encorperating the drift created by the Coreolis forces while traveling along this line
I would end up . . . .
Somewhere.
Fiji maybe. Or French Polynesia.

In any case, MY definition of “beyond japan” matches that of Japanese people. “If it is not Japanese it is a Gaijin”. Or concerning travel, if it is not Japan, it is “beyond Japan”.

Lille, France therefor falls quite nicely in the title of this blog.

Aaaaaanyway, on with the story.

Barely 5 days back from Japan and I was off to Lille.
Something something Big Party something something one of the few times Lille is interresting something something.
As after my landing on monday I moved on tuesday instead of the “next weekend” I had planned I actually had time to go there.
No time to properly prepare the trip though so I went off half-cocked to Lille.

Doing something like this is Japan is exciting.
Doing something like that in Africa could mean trouble.
Doing something like that in Belgium is . . . .

Rather disapointing.
Apart from the missed connection in Antwerp it was all rather mundane. I understood all the announcements. The train system worked on principles I understood and though my PINcard didn’t work on the machines I could clearly express myself to the person behind the counter that sold me the ticket.

Lille had a “La Grande Braderie” which basically means that for 1 weekend the entire centre of the city is chuck full of stalls manned by people trying to sell stuff. Professional dealers mix with jean-mundane that try to sell everything from THE new cleaning revolution to the kid’s hand-me-downs, Canoes to wooden giraffe figurines, Levis to Candy.

At the same time they have a contest at the restaurants to see who can sell the most mussels. Of course, this has to be measured and while this is amusing. The smell can kind of ruin it.
And these piles choke of allready tight streets. People with claustrophobia or other conditions that mean you dislike close spaces and even closer proximity to people (say if you really REALLY can’t stand other people’s Body Odor. I know that can be a big one for me, my god man use some deodorant) something like La Grande Braderie may not be the best place for you.

I could go on about this Braderie but really it was only an excuse to visit Raph at her home town and meet the parents.
Knowing this gets read by her parents I will wisely leave out any comments regarding them

Mostly to annoy them. MUhahahahahaha.

One thing was annoying though.
The bread thing has been mentioned before. Japan has sucky bread.
Really
So I come home to holland and enjoy some proper bread after long being denied this.
Then I go to France

Shit

Now again. I live in a country with inferior bread.

Not as inferior as before. Just . . . . not as good as French bread.

Crap

To wrap the story up I had to go back to Holland in order to make it to school on time on monday and seeing as the French University program didn’t start till September 15th Raph decided to accompany me.

But how that turned out, and what adventures we had while she was here . . . I’ll leave that to the Fair Maiden to describe.

The journey home

Monday, September 1st, 2008

http://www.narita-airport.jp/cgi-bin/ais/flight_search.cgi/sch_pub_trv_eng

Note the “delayed” status. This bodes well.

I “should” arrive at schiphol 21:15 on UL2113.

HOWEVER. This is taken from the static flight arrivals database. According to the updated one. It’s not there.

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VERTALING

M’n vlucht van Tokyo naar London is vertraagd, m’n vlucht van london naar amsterdam is van de borden verdwenen. Ik hoor met UL2113 aan te komen maar volgens de huidige reporten van schiphol komt er niks aan rond 21:15 uit london.

Tof

Euhm . . . . Tja, tot later?

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Made it home.

Lessons learned: Never ever EVER fly Virgin Atlantic again.